Besides mass death, one of Covid’s biggest casualties are wine tastings in Italy. They were one of the pleasant surprises upon my move to Rome. So many wine tastings came to town, I never had to rent a car and go winery hopping. Covid sidelined wine tastings for two years and now they’re slowly coming back. I went to my first two weeks ago at Renato e Luisa, my favorite restaurant in Rome, which had a wine tasting/lesson for Cornell University students. More wine tastings are coming.
Italy and Valentine’s Day just go together, don’t they? We went to Vietri sul Mare on the Amalfi Coast, romantic at any time but double it on Valentine’s Day. We took a room overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, drank Campania wine in lively piazzas and shopped for ceramics in one of the ceramic capitals of Italy. Vietri sul Mare doesn’t get the hype that Positano and Sorrento get but it’s worth a weekend, particularly on Valentine’s Day.
The most important part of visiting Rome isn’t what room you take but what neighborhood you take it in. After living here eight years, I’ve written a Rome neighborhood guide. It’s thumbnail sketches on 10 neighborhoods, from popular Centro Storico and working my way out.
In the last 13 months I’ve been to 44 different restaurants in Rome. I have revised My Five Favorite Restaurants in Rome list from my last list from 2019. This one has a familiar name on top but all new places below it. Only Renato e Luisa can be found in Lonely Planet. Italy is open for business again. Start your appetites.
For two years I managed to avoid the long tentacles of Covid. I wore a mask everywhere. I got two vaccines and a booster. I practiced social distancing. I didn’t enter crowded places. Yet it still got me. Last week, I tested positive for Omicron. This is my story of Covid quarantine.
I didn’t travel much around Italy last year but in small places I uncovered some really unspoiled gems. Villages in Castelli Romani and Abruzzo dominated this year’s annual list of Underrated Italian Cities but I also dipped way down to Campania and up to Piedmont as well.
From the way my cappuccino tastes on my balcony every morning to the way the streetlights reflect off the Tiber River, I have so many reasons why I love Rome I list them every year on this date. It was Jan. 11, 2014 when I moved to Rome and today is my eight-year anniversary, time for another whimsical look at my love affair with the city.
Last year was the best and worst of both worlds. Covid travel restrictions continued our isolation from the world outside Italy. When the restrictions lifted, I raced to six countries in six months. But as time wore on, Covid returned and my patience did not. Traveling during a global pandemic is truly tiring. Here’s a month-by-month review of one of the strangest years of my life.
Annamaria Borelli began singing on her family’s porch in New Jersey at age 7. Since then she has trained as an opera singer and landed a role in the famous Italian opera La Boheme, which opens Tuesday at Rome’s Teatro Vittorio.
If you read my two recent blogs on Finland, you’ll know we had a great time and dove into the holiday spirit. But behind all the fun anecdotes was a lot of stress caused by the ever-changing rules of pandemic travel. We’re exhausted. We’re taking a break in 2022.
Michael Hunt is an American expat in Helsinki. He also happens to be a fellow ex-sportswriter who threw himself in Finland’s culture as I did in Italy’s. We met in Helsinki and he told me his story and why Finland’s social democracy shouldn’t be such a filthy title.
Rovaniemi, Finland, is a 75-minute flight from Helsinki and is the mythical home of Santa Claus. In 1985 the city built a Santa’s Village where it looks like a Currier and Ives painting with huge Christmas trees, sleigh rides and Christmas carols. Santa is around, too. But it’s more than a kid’s Christmas dream. It’s also a winter wonderland where we went dog sledding and saw the Northern Lights.